As winter weather approaches, it’s important to be ready for unexpected power outages and winter weather conditions. Read on for handy tips to help get you ready for any winter weather event.
Preparing your home and automobiles for winter weather and winter emergencies
Make a plan
Be prepared before a winter storm hits by planning ahead. If you are in an area prone to winter weather, be sure to create a communication and disaster plan for your family ahead of time.
Weatherproof your home
Insulate walls and attic space as well as any water lines that run along exterior walls so your water supply will be less likely to freeze.
Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
Install storm or thermal-pane windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside.
Repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on your home or other structure during a storm.
Inspect chimney flue
If you plan to use a fireplace or wood stove for emergency heating, have your chimney or flue inspected each year. Ask your local fire department to recommend an inspector or find one online.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
If you’ll be using a fireplace, wood stove, or kerosene heater, install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector near the area to be heated. Test them monthly and replace batteries twice a year.
Each winter season have your furnace system and vent checked by a qualified technician to ensure they are functioning properly.
Generators can be helpful when the power goes out. It is important to know how use them safely to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and other hazards.
Generators and fuel should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows, doors and attached garages.
Keep the generator dry and protected from rain or flooding. Touching a wet generator or devices connected to one can cause electrical shock.
Always connect the generator to appliances with heavy-duty extension cords.
Let the generator cool before refueling. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts can ignite.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Emergency car kit
It is best to avoid traveling, but if it is necessary, keep the following in your car:
Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries
Items to stay warm such as extra hats, coats, mittens, and blankets
Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
Flashlight with extra batteries
Water and snack food
First aid kit with any necessary medications and a pocketknife
Tow chains or rope
Canned compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair
Cat litter or sand to help tires get traction, or road salt to melt ice
Booster cables with fully charged battery or jumper cables
Hazard or other reflectors
Bright colored flag or help signs, emergency distress flag, and/or emergency flares
Waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water
Know your winter weather terms when monitoring potential storms
Winter Storm Warning
Issued when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is imminent or occurring. Winter Storm Warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin.
Winter Storm Watch
Alerts the public to the possibility of a blizzard, heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet. Winter Storm Watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a Winter Storm.
Winter Weather Advisory
Issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet which will cause significant inconveniences and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to life-threatening situations.
Learn the signs of, and basic treatments for, frostbite and hypothermia
Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers and toes.
Signs: Numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, firm or waxy skin.
Actions: Go to a warm room. Soak in warm water. Use body heat to warm. Do not massage or use a heating pad.
Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature. A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency.
Actions: Go to a warm room. Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head and groin. Keep dry and wrapped up in warm blankets, including the head and neck.
Have a thermometer handy to monitor body temperature
Our ability to feel a change in temperature decreases with age. Older adults are more susceptible to health problems caused by cold. Keep an easy-to-read thermometer in a handy location. Check the temperature of your home often during the winter months.
Just a little preparation for the cold temperature and winter weather conditions will go a long way to keep you safe and healthy all season long.
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